HP CTO Shane Wall Interview — Megatrends, Automating Jobs, and Fighting Growing Inequality

by Dean Takahashi
Feb 27, 2019 9:10 AM ET

HP is unveiling today its expectations for “megatrends,” or the major trends that will shape our world in the years to come. It comes courtesy of Shane Wall, the chief technology officer of HP and head of HP Labs. He oversees research and development at HP.

Wall periodically gets the big research team at HP to decipher the latest megatrends, or trends that may unfold over decades. And that’s hard to do, since Wall said in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat that that change keeps accelerating in our world.

But big companies like HP, which had $58 billion in revenues last year, have to try to predict those changes and adapt their business plans to prepare for the disruption — or become victims of it. Wall said that megatrends are major socioeconomic, demographic and technological shifts that will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years ahead — on businesses, societies, economies, cultures, and our personal lives. They will impact our experience at home, at work, and on the go, he said.

HP has identified four major megatrends — rapid urbanization, changing demographics, hyper globalization, and accelerated innovation — that it believes will have the biggest impact. By 2030, the company expects there to be 8.5 billion people on the planet, and we’ll have more than 50 megacities with more than 10 million people each. People will live longer and be hyper aware of global issues, thanks to the internet. Global resources for taking care of people will be stressed, and inequality could grow.

The world will become truly flat when it comes to globalization, trade wars notwithstanding. And the pace and breadth of innovation will continue to accelerate. As new technology components mature and become commoditized, they transform into the building blocks that enable more frequent breakthroughs. These will include things like advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, digital health, edge computing, security, blockchain, haptics, robotics, and 3D printing.

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